Abandoned Yet Determined - The Story of a Self-Made Woman

ARC’s Cash Back Transfer (CBT) program aims to target all disenfranchised segments of the community; the program is not limited to assisting farmers and landowners with technical and financial support, or specific to agricultural development. The CBT program has been a witness to many creative and innovative solutions to combating poverty, especially among women and girls by paving ways for alternate sources of livelihood in the marginalized communities of Baluchistan.

Empowering a community is almost synonymous with empowering a household- it is important to identify all the beneficiaries of a community. It is much easier for a household to move forward with three people holding the reigns, rather than allowing one person to carry the entire burden.  By recognizing the untapped potential in women and girls, we are one step closer to a sustainable tomorrow!

Some of our favorite examples of innovation have been through individuals such as Ayesha Bibi.

The Innovative Ideas

Ayesha Bibi is a resident of Yaro, Baluchistan- a remote area, which greatly affects the standard of living of the entire community. Ayesha Bibi lives alone; her husband left to travel to other cities in search of employment and has not returned home. She has sustained a brief semblance of life by slowly selling what little valuables she could, by calling a one-room hut home- the only valuable commodity left to her by her spouse, and being dependent on the support from various members of the community with small financial handouts and sharing of meals.

Ayesha Bibi marks an extremely vulnerable segment of society- more so than the families around her. She is isolated, with no children to lean on for emotional dependability or support. Through ARC’s CBT program, Ayesha Bibi qualifies as an ‘Unconditional Participant’ for assistance. And for the first time in years, she has hope.

Perhaps the biggest struggle in impoverished areas is the vicious cycle of poverty; living is largely dependent on a hand to mouth basis, making it difficult for households to save income and subsequently, invest resources into a viable economic enterprise. However, as a participant of the CBT program, Ayesha Bibi can finally start a small level business and she discovers that the options are endless.

How Ayesha Bibi started her Small Enterprise

Ayesha Bibi noticed a pattern amongst the men and children of the village, despite the financial limitations of the community; many were willing to spend small sums of money on sweets and confectionary items like biscuits and candy. It was often times used as incentive for half a days’ work completed, a sweet treat to take home and enjoy with tea, and innocent happiness for children.

Ayesha Bibi decided that she would explore the economic sustainability of such a venture. She discovered that she could purchase confectionary goods from the wholesale market in bulk at less than commercial prices, thereby establishing a profit margin. The next question was that of transporting and stocking her wares.

The solution of transport was given by a farmer from the community- who offered to take Ayesha Bibi to the wholesale market as he had work near there.

Ayesha Bibi’s Present and Future

One of the most important outcomes for Ayesha Bibi has been the financial independence she has attained; factorizing costs and expenses, the Candy Cart venture brings in Rs 2500 monthly in profit alone. It has also been an empowering educational experience, communicating with vendors in the wholesale market, and being an approachable vendor for the customers in the community and learning how to do basic bookkeeping. Ayesha Bibi hopes to expand her stock and with the passage of time and resources to invest, she aims to add edible items of nutritional value, lessons learned from ARC’s nutrition sensitive trainings, in order to encourage women and children especially, to prioritize health and combat malnutrition.